Ocean State Job Lot
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New England private fleet grows through innovation and service

June 5, 2024
With vigilant cost management, strengthened safety measures, and a commitment to giving back, Ocean State Job Lot's private fleet is growing. The NPTC member shares fleet management strategies that help it succeed.

Ocean State Job Lot operates one of the largest distribution centers in Rhode Island, with 1.3 million square feet of storage space, 134 doors, and 88,000 pallet positions. Founded in 1977, it is a growing, privately held discount retail chain with 153 stores in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  

The company's private fleet, which is expanding as the reliance on external carriers declines, is a key contributor to its success. OSJL’s fleet comprises 70 CDL Class A drivers, 63 power units predominantly consisting of day cabs, some sleeper cabs, 588 dry van trailers, two refrigerated trucks, one flatbed truck, and 88 container chassis.

“Our fleet oversees 100% of outbound shipments and manages 56-60% of inbound ones,” according to Jeff Smith, senior manager of transportation and logistics at OSJL. “Throughout 2023, we executed 16,975 deliveries, drayed 2,107 containers, and coordinated a total of 3,000 inbound shipments utilizing a blend of our private fleet and third-party services.”

OSJL has approximately 5,600 employees and generates annual sales exceeding $800 million by offering brand-name merchandise at closeout prices. The company's mission is to provide exceptional value to customers while supporting numerous causes. Through its Charitable Foundation, it provides assistance to the hungry, the homeless, veterans and military families, animal rescue, children's welfare, health care advancements, support of the arts, and education.

See also: Petty: A drivers’ champion builds up private fleet

Giving back in many ways

The OSJL Charitable Foundation is a philanthropic leader in the retail industry. In 2023, the foundation supported 710 nonprofit organizations through its “Close to Our Heart” program, which enables OSJL store teams to make decisions about local charities to support.

As part of its Three Square Meals program, the foundation provided millions of meals to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. Through its Buy-Give-Get programs, the foundation partnered with OSJL customers to supply a record 63,000 warm coats to veterans and 36,000 backpacks to children of military families. The company donates pet supplies, pet food, and cash donations to more than 190 animal welfare organizations through its To the Rescue initiative.

The OSJL Charitable Foundation also supports natural disaster relief, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, and is steadfastly committed to global humanitarian aid.

OSJL strives to grow, develop, and support its diverse and talented team. The company was named a four-time Best Employer by a well-known national business magazine, a three-time U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte, and a two-time Sustainability Leader by Business Intelligence Group. It won the 2023 Fleet of the Year Award from the Rhode Island Trucking Association.

Growing a safe fleet through dedication

Smith, a 20-year Rhode Island Air National Guard veteran, is widely regarded as a fleet management expert. He has been actively involved with the National Private Truck Council for over a decade and frequently speaks at NPTC conferences and webcasts. 

“I really enjoy being a part of the council, one of my favorite organizations,” Smith said. “There is so much ROI available. The biggest value for me is the open environment of networking with hundreds of fleet professionals I’ve come to know over the years. The benchmarking reports are invaluable to our fleet operations.”

Ensuring safety is critical. A dedicated transportation safety manager was recruited specifically for the fleet, accompanied by installing cameras in the cabs. Additionally, a lead-driver training initiative has been launched, and drivers undergo training using the Smith System.

“We’re implementing a systematic equipment replacement schedule, establishing a comprehensive accident investigation protocol, and prioritizing premium truck specifications such as disc brakes,” Smith explains. “In the past year, our vigilant cost management in areas like drayage, detention, and demurrage fees has yielded savings exceeding $1 million. However, our primary forthcoming challenge revolves around compliance with the EPA’s 2027 regulations concerning NOx emissions.”

As a recipient of prestigious awards and accolades, including recognition for fleet management excellence, OSJL continues to grow, innovate, and support its dedicated team.

Smith embodies this dedication, leveraging his expertise and experience to drive the company’s fleet operations forward while focusing on safety, innovation, and compliance. As OSJL looks to the future, it remains committed to its core values of integrity, excellence, and service, striving to make a difference in the lives of customers, employees, and communities alike.

About the Author

Gary Petty

Gary Petty has more than three decades of experience as a CEO of national trade associations in the trucking industry. Since 2001, he has served as president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council, the national trade association founded in 1939, representing the private motor carrier industry. Petty is the Private Fleet Editor and columnist for FleetOwner, where he writes monthly articles about successful managers and business models in the private fleet market.

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